Over the past two months, I have had the good fortune to ride along with our volunteer Crime Watch patrols. As I joined them on their patrols, I was encouraged to note how many citizens waved, stopped to say hello, or took the time to personally thank our volunteers for what they do.
Volunteers are often the ones who perform the thankless tasks and yet, those tasks are crucial to making our community safe.
Over the past year, volunteer members of the Citrus County Sheriff's Office Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) helped direct traffic for COVID-19 vaccination sites. Members of our Crime Watch units watched school zones, ensuring that people remember to slow down for our youngest citizens, and kept a watchful eye on their neighbors’ homes and property. Volunteers working in our Cold Case and Investigations units worked alongside agency personnel to solve cases. Sewing Unit members used their talents to alter uniforms and sew on patches for sworn personnel.
Have you ever needed to be fingerprinted for a concealed weapons permit or employment opportunity? Volunteer members of the Fingerprinting Unit provide this important service for members of our community. After being forced to close for more than a year due to COVID, our Seniors vs. Crime unit has been instrumental in helping those in our community who have been scammed or taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals. Animal Control volunteers assist with lost animals and loose livestock. Public Service Officers respond to calls for service that don’t require a sworn deputy. And, if you’ve ever had to call one of our agency offices, you were likely assisted by a volunteer receptionist.
Without volunteers, none of these tasks could be accomplished.
The Citrus County Sheriff's Office also has volunteers who work in Finance, Aviation, Volunteer Administration, and Victim Advocacy. Volunteers work with children in Child ID, patrolling bike trails with Rails to Trails Patrol, and even on horseback with the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse. If you can think of a task or an area that operates within the framework of the Sheriff’s Office, there’s a good chance a volunteer is working there.
America has a strong tradition of volunteerism, dating back to our country’s inception. The idea and the act of volunteering are so ingrained in our society that we take volunteers for granted. After all, we are accustomed to seeing them in action, lending a hand where it’s needed. Too often, we forget that these folks are donating their skills, their sweat, and their time to serving a higher purpose.
Even during the last year, when so much of our world felt as if it had gone topsy-turvy, CCSO volunteers continued to work, giving more than 50,000 hours. While no volunteer’s work can be measured in sheer numbers, these hours represent the equivalent of a $1.4 million donation to the agency.
April 18-24 was Volunteer Appreciation Week, making this the perfect time to thank all of the outstanding women and men who give so unselfishly of themselves in the pursuit of making Citrus County the safest county in Florida. Without our amazing volunteers, we couldn’t do what we do. Without them, Citrus County would not be the place we all love to call home.
There’s no question that the world has changed. But one thing has remained: Volunteers are still willing to work hard and give back to the communities that they love.
Amy Douglas, Senior Services Coordinator